Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
CEO Minute: We Play A Role In Medicaid Savings

CEO Minute: We Play A Role In Medicaid Savings

CEO Minute: We Play A Role In Medicaid Savings- image0An Associated Press article that came out today about Medicaid caught my eye.  Maybe you read it as well.

Basically, it is saying Texas’ share for providing health care to poor children, the impoverished elderly and the disabled is growing faster than tax revenues to cover services for these individuals. It seems the number of people qualifying for Medicaid nearly doubled between 2000 and 2011, and the number of poor children grew more than 10 percent in 2010 alone. Furthermore, the article points out, on average, the Medicaid population grows 6.3 percent a year.

As a member of the Frew Committee established by the Texas Legislature to study the state’s Medicaid program, these numbers do not surprise me… yet, they do get my attention and I believe they should for every responsible Texan. We have to come up with innovative ideas to deal with these escalating costs. Most of us want to help people.  Concurrently, we want to be fiscally responsible; therefore, we face tough decisions.

Medicaid represents about 20 percent of the state budget.  For every $1 Texas spends on the program, the federal government matches $1.47 to help cover the costs, and many services being provided are mandated by federal law.  Texas has little or no choice on what to provide to eligible individuals.

One area suggested in the article, where most everyone who has studied the matter agrees, is that we could save significant dollars by finding alternatives other than the emergency department for the elderly and disabled to receive care. Perhaps this is where Texas Tech Physicians of Lubbock can step up and play a role. We have a group working on a “medical home” model. The 1115 Medicaid Waiver program may present some possibilities.